September 25, 2020

West Brom promoted to Premier League with draw against QPR

West Bromwich Albion players showered boss Slaven Bilic with champagne at full-time, the Croatian having guided the Baggies to promotion in his first season in charge

West Bromwich Albion have won promotion to the Premier League, despite failing to beat QPR in their final Championship game of the season.

A point at The Hawthorns was enough for Slaven Bilic’s Baggies to go up in second place behind Leeds United, thanks to rivals Brentford’s home defeat by Barnsley.

Albion’s draw would have been enough anyway, but Barnsley’s winner gave the Baggies a two-point cushion.

Ryan Manning put QPR ahead before Albion turned it round with goals either side of the break from Grady Diangana and Callum Robinson.

Eberechi Eze’s stunning equaliser earned Rangers a point but was not enough to deny Albion a record fifth promotion to the Premier League.

Albion promoted on nervy night near the top

The Baggies feared their automatic promotion hopes may have disappeared after losing their penultimate game at Huddersfield on Friday, but Brentford’s slip-up at Stoke the following day meant Bilic’s side had their fate in their own hands on the final day.

They had gone close through Romaine Sawyers and a Matheus Pereira shot over the bar before QPR went ahead.

Manning’s shot was blocked by a combination of Kyle Bartley and Jake Livermore, but his second attempt from just outside the box flew to Sam Johnstone’s left into the bottom corner.

The hosts were level when Robinson slipped a short pass into the inside-left channel and Diangana expertly scored his eighth goal of the season, firing through Lumley’s legs.

Robinson had a chance to put his team ahead, only to put his attempt wide, but he made up for it almost straight after the restart by putting Albion in front.

On-loan forward Callum Robinson tapped in West Bromwich Albion’s second goal to help the Baggies on their way to promotion

Diangana showed mesmeric skill down the left to get away from Luke Amos and Osman Kakay before crossing for an unattended Robinson to slide the ball past the exposed Lumley.

Robinson missed when through one-on-one but shot wide, and Rangers made Albion pay.

Yoann Barbet’s raking pass over the top put Eze in behind Dara O’Shea down the right, his first touch took him clear of the Albion full-back and he ran on to send a powerful right-footed shot into the top corner.

Albion came close to a winner when Filip Krovinovic’s low right-foot shot was turned onto the post by Lumley and Semi Ajayi headed wide, but Barnsley’s late winner at Griffin Park spared the Baggies an even more anxious finish.

Celebrations start at The Hawthorns

The only disappointment for Albion was that their latest promotion came behind closed doors, with no supporters allowed inside The Hawthorns because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But, while Albion’s players celebrated on the pitch and showered Bilic with champagne, a group of Baggies’ fans were determined not to be left out.

Despite warnings from both the club and Sandwell Council to stay away and follow social distancing guidelines, a large gathering of supporters were soon showing their glee as car horns blew and blue smoke gusted outside the Jeff Astle gates.

Albion have truly put their fans through an emotional wringer since the Championship season resumed in mid-June.

At the end of February, just two games before the season was suspended, Albion were briefly seven points clear of eventual champions Leeds at the top and 13 ahead of Brentford.

The Bees’ eight-match winning run, including a victory over Albion, put the pressure on and they won just three of their last 11 games, nine of which came after the restart.

But Brentford’s back-to-back defeats in their final two games helped take top-flight football back to The Hawthorns, 14 months after being knocked out of last season’s play-offs by neighbours Aston Villa.